15 Annoying Things Neighbours Do And What You Can Do About It!

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary you can run back to, after having to deal with the stresses of the outside world. But what if you have neighbours who actually make you scared to come home? Here are some common examples, and what action you can take against them!
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Being an adult can get pretty hectic at times, what with juggling work, family, friends, "me" time, responsibilities, making sure mouths are fed, and bills paid on time; it’s a never-ending race!

After a tiring day, you want to come home to your sanctuary to relax and recharge your batteries for tomorrow. Maybe play some lo-fi tunes and chill with some aromatherapy candles.

As soon as you walk into your unit, that’s when you hear it: Your neighbours arguing upstairs. You hear screaming, things thrown around, and somewhere down the corridor, loud barking.

To top it all off, your next-door neighbour decides it’s the perfect time to practice their beginner violin lessons, and someone else has arrived home just in time to burn some religious offerings at their balcony that tickle your nose.

With such neighbours that rob you of the peace and quiet you deserve so much, what can you do about it? Is it merely enough to raise your voice at them, or can you take legal matters?

Let’s look at some examples of neighbours from hell, and how you can go about fixing your woes, whether it's through a private 1-on-1 conversation or with the help of law enforcement.

 

1) Parking outside your house without permission

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It gets frustrating when the entrance of your home is blocked. Worse is if you don’t know who owns that car! However, under certain occasions and with permission, it’s acceptable, like when your neighbours are having an event and expecting lots of guests.

What to do:

  1. Talk to the owner of the vehicle to find out why they’ve parked there and work out a solution (if it’s an ongoing problem). 
  2. Place flower pots/traffic cones/large bricks/no parking signs so nobody can park there except you. 
  3. Park there first so nobody else can take your space.
  4. Report to your local authorities/council to issue a summon for illegal parking.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Road Transport Act 1987 for road obstruction or the Minor Offences Act 1955/Penal Code for trespassing.

 

2) Overgrowing their trees/plants

It’s amazing that your neighbour has green fingers, but what’s less amazing are the leaves dropping into your porch, and you have to clean it up. Every-single-day! The worst part is that you’re not even cleaning up your mess, but one caused by someone else!

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the overgrowth and whether they plan on trimming the trees/plants. 
  2. Offer to bear part of the expenses for trimming if they cite the cost as a reason why they’ve let it overgrow. 
  3. Trim the overgrown branches yourself.
  4. Report to your local council about the nuisance.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit.

 

3) Making loud noises and disturbing others

Preferably, any loud noises that might disturb your neighbours such as drilling, hammering, and playing musical instruments should be done during the day. Once the sun goes down and people return home to get ready for sleep, any loud noises can be considered a disturbance.

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour and ask them if they can keep the noise level to a minimum, especially past certain hours.
  2. Soundproof your home and invest in quality earplugs, or even noise-cancelling earphones.
  3. Report to your local authorities/council if the noise has escalated or you suspect anything suspicious.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit.

 

4) Neglecting proper pet care

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It includes the little things like not cleaning up the stinky droppings and letting their furkids roam about unleashed, to harsher things such as complete neglect and abuse (which is a criminal offence, we'll have you know).

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the issues their pets have caused (safety, noise, cleanliness).
  2. Gift them some pet treats, poop-scoopers, or cute collars to show you really do care about their pet.
  3. Talk to your local management or neighbourhood representative to see if any rules can be enforced.
  4. If you suspect cases of animal abuse or endangered species kept as pets, report to your local authorities/council immediately.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Animal Welfare Act if you suspect the owner is not taking proper care of their pet.

 

5) Self-inviting themselves to your events

This speaks for itself, especially when it’s an open-house event and they’re not invited. It’s hard to turn them away because they live right next door, but it’s even harder to say “You’re not invited” with a (very fake) smile on your face and hope they won’t be offended!

What to do:

  1. Tell your neighbour that this is a private, invitation-only event, and you will invite them to your next one instead.
  2. If they insist on attending, treat them nicely, grin and bear it, and pray they won’t be a problem.
  3. If they start becoming a nuisance at your event though, report to your local authorities immediately.
  4. Prepare stricter rules and hire bouncers to stop this from happening again in the future.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Penal Code for trespassing.

 

6) Entering into your house uninvited

Although your home’s undergoing renovation and the door’s left wide open, that’s NOT an invitation for strangers to come in uninvited! The same goes if you’re playing badminton and the shuttlecock lands in your neighbour’s house: Wait until they’re home to ask their permission to retrieve it.

What to do:

  1. Tell them firmly but politely that it’s not nice to go into someone’s house uninvited, and you’d appreciate it if they’d ask your permission first.
  2. Put up an ‘authorised personnel only’ sign on your door/gate if you’re in the midst of renovations or moving house.
  3. Report to your local management or neighbourhood representative.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Penal Code for trespassing.

 

7) Pointing CCTVs at other people’s houses

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Although its positioning may be an ‘accident’, it can be a violation of privacy, and it’s unsettling to know you’re being watched all the time. Plus, it's a super creepy thing to do; there’s no knowing what they might record and do with the recordings!

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about pointing the CCTVs away from your house, or to only feature a small portion of it.
  2. Keep outdoor activity to a minimum, so your neighbour has less to see.
  3. Close any doors/windows and draw the curtains to prevent others from spying on the insides of your house.
  4. Report to your local authorities/council if you feel the invasion of privacy has affected your peace of mind drastically.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit.

 

8) Disposing rubbish in someone else’s garbage bin

Why they do it, nobody knows. Perhaps they’re disposing of something they don’t want to get caught with (blooooood)? Either way, it can be really frustrating if your garbage bin is full and they throw out your bags just so there’s room for them to stuff theirs inside!

What to do:

  1. Talk to them to find out why they’re doing it. Is there a problem with their garbage bin? If yes, offer to get them a new one.
  2. Ask your other neighbours if they’ve experienced the same issue, and what solution can be worked out together.
  3. Put up a sign that forbids others to throw their rubbish in your garbage bin, and mention that the area is monitored 24/7.
  4. Install a CCTV or take photographs/videos of them in the act as evidence.
  5. Report to your local management/council if there's no resolution.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit. If the person has trespassed onto your private property, under the Penal Code for trespassing.

 

9) Damaging other people’s property

When carrying out renovation, there’s always the risk of damaging someone else’s property. This could include accidentally making a hole in your wall, causing leaks and cracks, or weakening the overall structure of your home.

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the type of renovations going on so you know what, where, and when to expect it.
  2. If you notice any damage to your property that could be caused by the renovation, take a picture or video immediately and alert your neighbour.
  3. Negotiate with your neighbour to foot the bill for the damages as it was caused by their actions.
  4. Report to your local management/council if your neighbour refuses to accept responsibility for it and the damage has only worsened.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit, and under the Penal Code for trespassing if the cracks allowed water and sewage (yikes!) to seep in.

 

10) Turning private property into an Airbnb or office

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If your neighbour has decided to turn their 2-storey home into a 2-storey office or short-term rental, they can do so, but only under certain conditions, for certain locations, and with a valid license.

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about why they’ve decided to turn the residential property into a commercial one, and what disturbances have occurred (safety, noise, pests).
  2. Request to see the official documents that confirm the approval of turning the home into an Airbnb/office.
  3. Ask your neighbour to be a more proactive landlord and control the tenants/workers so that others are not disturbed.
  4. Report to the local authorities/council/management if your neighbour can’t provide authentic documents and there’s no solution to the disturbance.

Can sue or not?

Yes, if there is no official license from the local council.

 

11) Stealing your resources

Because we live in such close proximity nowadays, we practically "share" everything with our neighbours. Certain things like common walls and drainage are expected, but when utilities like wifi, electricity, and water are involved, that's NOT okay. Stealing power is a punishable offence!

What to do:

  1. Change your wifi password every few months, ensure that a combination of letter, numbers, and symbols are used, plus keep it a secret from anyone except your family.
  2. Monitor your utility usage to identify if someone has been leeching off you, especially when you’re not at home.
  3. Call the utility companies to check on the wiring/pipes to see if it’s being channelled to other places illegally.
  4. Report to your local authorities/management.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Electricity Supply Act 1990, as permission is needed for any modification of supply lines.

 

12) Asking you to babysit their kids last minute or receive their parcels

The first few times it happens, it’s a neighbourly favour, but after that, it becomes a real nuisance. After all, their children and their online shopping purchases are their responsibility, NOT yours!

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour to find out the cause of the problem. Is it a matter of poor planning or plain irresponsibility?
  2. Suggest alternatives such as hiring a real babysitter, having the parcels delivered to their office, making arrangements with their family members nearby, etc.
  3. Charge them for your (excellent) childcare and parcel-receiving services.
  4. If all else fails, try to talk to their relatives or other neighbours to see if they’re able to help instead.

Can sue or not?

No, although it’s a disturbance, it doesn’t directly affect the state of your property. Best to work it out with your neighbour directly!

 

13) Conducting frequent open burning

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As environmental awareness increases, open burning has become less tolerated as it contributes to air and odour pollution, along with breathing difficulties. That said, there are certain situations where you can take legal action related to open burning!

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour and ask if the open burning is necessary (for religious offerings, one should be tolerant of each other’s traditions, to a certain extent).
  2. Discuss alternatives to open burning such as composting, proper waste disposal, closed furnaces with filters, burning on a smaller scale, going elsewhere with a wide open space, etc.
  3. Speak up on the environmental and health consequences caused by their open burning.
  4. Close your doors, windows, and turn the air purifier on maximum when you smell smoke.
  5. Report to the local authorities or the Fire and Rescue Department immediately if the fire is uncontrollable and deemed a risk.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 related to open-burning and the burning of trash but with exceptions for burning religious offerings, barbeques, cremations, etc.

 

14) Building past their property and intruding into yours

Any renovation work requires a permit, and if your neighbour’s new refurbishment has started to intrude into your property and is causing you trouble, you have every right to make a complaint to have it removed.

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the problem and if there are any solutions.
  2. Find out if the renovation/addition is legal, and since it has affected you, whether you can take harsher action.
  3. Report to your local management/council about the issue.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under a Private Nuisance* lawsuit.

 

15) Failing to maintain the upkeep of their home

It might be their home and their responsibility, but if it gets to the point of not being taken care of, it could endanger fellow neighbours and the whole community. How? When a variety of pests come along, and posing serious health/cleanliness issues!

What to do:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the condition of their house and how it’s affecting you/the community.
  2. Offer to help clean up or pay for the cleanup (if they say that cost/age/health condition is the issue).
  3. Report to your local council about the nuisance.

Can sue or not?

Yes, under the Local Government Act 1976, if the occupant allows the home to exist in a filthy/unattended state.

 

What is this Private/Public Nuisance?

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Under certain situations that arise from annoying neighbours, you can take action against them in the form of a private or public nuisance lawsuit.

Private Nuisance

Public Nuisance

A dispute between two people.

A dispute that affects the rights of the general public.

Interferes with the use and enjoyment of a person’s life and property.

Causes any injury, danger, or annoyance to people in general or those who are using the public spaces.

Example: Loud music at odd hours, tree leaves dropping into your compound.

Example: Pollution, fighting in public, breaking things and causing chaos.

In the context of neighbours and private property, filing a Private Nuisance lawsuit would (hopefully!) guarantee you the ability to enjoy your property. However, you would first need to prove that:

  1. You are the rightful owner of the property or you have the right to own it.
  2. Your neighbour behaved in a way/took action that interfered with your enjoyment of your property.
  3. Your neighbour’s actions were substantial and unreasonable.

In the end, all we want is to live in harmony with the people around us — that includes our loved ones and neighbours, of course. Surely that’s every community’s goal?

If you’re stuck in a rut and you're convinced your neighbour is from hell, get help from professional bodies such as the authorities, city council, or JMB, and DO NOT take matters into your own hands!

For those living in strata-titled properties such as condominiums and serviced residences, the Joint Management Body (JMB) is the best party to consult to resolve your issues.

That’s because residents living in these properties are tied to the rules and regulations in the Strata Management Act 2013.

However, if JMB is unresponsive, fret not as you can still seek help from the Commissioner of Buildings (COB).

What about landed properties? Well, you can file a complaint with your local council via their official website or email them directly. Just remember to include as many details as possible regarding the problem.

It’s always best to resolve any issues or disputes as peacefully, amicably, and respectfully as possible. Not only is it a friendlier approach, but you also won’t need to go to the trouble of filing a lawsuit and bearing hefty lawyer fees.

 

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